Monday, March 30, 2015

2 New Literary Agents From Established Agencies Seeking Clients Now

Here are two new agents actively building their client lists. Kerry D’Agostino is at Curtis Brown, Ltd., an established agency in NYC. She is interested in a wide range of literary and commercial fiction, as well as narrative nonfiction and memoir. Lydia Blyfield of another established agency, Carol Mann, is seeking adult, young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as nonfiction projects in the areas of self-improvement, lifestyle, relationships and business.



About Kerry: Kerry started working at Curtis Brown, Ltd. in 2011 as assistant to Tim Knowlton and Holly Frederick in the Film and Television Department. Before Curtis Brown, she received her certificate in publishing from the Columbia Publishing Course, her masters in Art in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her bachelors from Bowdoin College. Follow her on Twitter: @dagostino_kerry

What she is seeking: Kerry is interested in a wide range of literary and commercial fiction, as well as narrative nonfiction and memoir. Above all when evaluating manuscripts, she looks for a strong narrative voice and a protagonist with whom she (and others) can connect. She also has a soft spot for anything to do with Maine, Vermont, skiing, and sisters.

How to submit: E-mail query letters to kd [at] cbltd.com, along with a synopsis and three sample chapters.

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Lydia Blyfield of Carol Mann Agency

About Lydia: Lydia Blyfield is originally from London, England. After studying PR and Communications in the UK, she relocated to New York City where she gained a B.A. in English and American Literature at New York University. As well as building her own client list, Lydia manages the Carol Mann Agency’s subsidiary rights. Follow her on Twitter: @lydiablyf and Goodreads.

What she is seeking: adult, young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as nonfiction projects.
Lydia is looking for timely plots inspired by the headlines, effortless magical realism, unreliable narrators, and mysteries/psychological thrillers set in small communities (no CIA/FBI/MI5, please). She is always on the hunt for intriguing female voices and characters. In YA and MG she is looking for strong hooks and modern themes. Most importantly, she wants fiction that is impossible to put down.

She is not looking for high fantasy, political thrillers or romance.

In nonfiction, Lydia is looking for books that are both inspirational and modern in the areas of self-improvement, lifestyle, relationships and business. She is also looking for unique blogs, Tumblrs and Instagram profiles to transform into gift books. She is particularly interested in feminism and women’s issues.

How to submit: Please send a query letter including a brief bio, and the first 25 pages of your manuscript. to querylydia [at] carolmannagency.com — all material should be pasted into the body of the email message.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Neil Gaiman on Writing: "Your first draft doesn't count."

Neil Gaiman always has good advice for writers, and in this video (see below) he addresses overcoming writers' block with a number of practical suggestions.

While Gaiman is specifically talking about how he approaches writing, all of these observations are applicable to any writer, regardless of their medium.

Here are some of his major points:

1) "Your first draft doesn't count."

This is probably the most important piece of writing advice you will ever get, not only because it will free you to face the terror of a blank page, but because it is the truth.

Aside from you, nobody will ever see your first draft, because you will never show it to anybody.

In the euphoria of having finished your novel, or short story, you may be tempted to submit it to publishers, agents, friends - DON'T DO IT! Instead, let it pumpkinate. Put it away, and come back to it after you are well into another project. Otherwise, you will never see the mistakes you have made - but everyone else will.

2) "Write even when you are not inspired."

Gaiman says to "just put one word after the other" as if you were building a rock wall. If you wait until you are inspired you will not finish your project. I agree with Gaiman completely on this piece of advice. Paradoxically, even if the muse has deserted you, once you start writing she will return. The trick is to write something - every day -  in order to get the juices flowing. (It's called discipline.) Successful writers approach their work as if it were a job.

3) "Read outside your comfort zone."

Ray Bradbury also offered the same advice, and for a good reason. If you only read in your genre, you won't be exposed to different styles, different points of view, and different solutions to age-old problems. (Problem-solving is at the heart of every great novel.) So, read nonfiction, read poetry (especially poetry), read Shakespeare, read essays, read anything that isn't what you are writing. It will stretch your mind.

4) "In the beginning you will imitate other writers, but only you can tell your story."

The process of imitation is important. Those writers are your models, so choose them well. But, as you get your writing legs, you will naturally develop your own style, If you have a story to tell, your voice will shine through.

___________________

Related posts:

"If you don't know what's impossible, it's easier to do it ..." ~ Neil Gaiman

Ray Bradbury's Words of Wisdom - Write Like Hell!

Writing Advice from Frank Herbert: Concentrate on story



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

10 Writing Contests in April - No Entry Fee

Here are 10 great contests with deadlines in the month of April. (Some of these are annual events, so if you miss your perfect contest this year, you'll have another chance.) 

If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would be Wergle Flomp. I don't write humorous, or any other kind of poetry. But you gotta love that name!

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Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Now in its 14th year, this contest seeks today's best humor poems, published and unpublished. Please enter one poem only. Prize: $2000, Honorable Mentions: 10 awards of $100 each, and publication on Winning Writers. Deadline: April 1, 2015. Submission form HERE.


Descant: Fort Worth's Journal of Poetry & Fiction is published by the English Department of Texas Christian University. The Journal accepts submissions from Sept 1 - April 1. Prize: $500 in each category (poetry and short fiction) for the best poem or short story published in Descant. Deadline: April 1. How to enter: Submit to Descant.

The Great American Think-OffGenre: Essay on the theme: Does Technology Free Us or Trap Us? Writers should ground their essays in personal experience rather than philosophical abstraction. Essay should be no more than 750 words. Prize: One of four $500 cash prizes.Deadline: April 1, 2015. Submission details are HERE.

Stony Brook Short Fiction PrizeRestrictions: Only undergraduates enrolled full time in United States and Canadian universities and colleges for the academic year 2014-15 are eligible. Genre: Fiction of no more than 7,500 words Prize: $1,000. Deadline: April 1, 2015. See submission details  HERE.

‘Dear You’: The Third Annual Common Good Books Poetry Contest is sponsored by Common Good Books, proprietor Garrison Keillor. Genre: Single poem entries to “Dear You” should be in the form of a letter to a specific real person--but love is not required. Prizes: Three poets will receive grand prizes of $1000 each, and four poets will receive $500 for poems of particular merit. Deadline: April 4, 2015. Submission details are HERE.

Chautauqua Editors Prize. Awards will recognize the writing that best captures both the issue’s theme and the spirit of Chautauqua Institution. Prizes: $500, $250, and $100 for each issue. Deadline: April 15, 2015. Submission form HERE.

The Waterman Fund Essay ContestGenre: "The 2015 essay contest invites emerging writers to explore the question of who the stewards of wilderness are. Statistically, more men than women explore professional careers in the stewardship of wilderness and public land management. What, if any, bearing does the gender of stewards have on our shared and individual perceptions of, and relationship to, wilderness?" Prizes: The winning essayist will be awarded $1500 and published in Appalachia Journal. The Honorable Mention essay will receive $500. Deadline: April 15, 2015. Submission details are HERE.

University of Arkansas Arabic Translation Award 2015Genres: Book-length translation of Arabic literature from any of the following genres: poetry, novel, short story collection, drama, or literary non-fiction such as autobiography or memoir. Submitted translations must be previously unpublished in book form. All translation rights must be cleared for publication. Prize: $5,000. Publication by Syracuse University Press. Deadline: April 30, 2015. Submission guidelines are HERE.

Toronto Book AwardsGenres: All genres accepted. Restrictions: Submission "must evoke the city itself, that is, contain some clear Toronto content (this may be reflected in the themes, settings, subjects, etc.). Authors do not necessarily have to reside in Toronto. Ebooks, textbooks and self-published works are not eligible. Prize: A total of $15,000 CD will be awarded. Each shortlisted author (usually 4-6) receives C$1,000 and the winning author is awarded the remainder. Deadline: April 30, 2015. Submission guidelines are HERE.

The Jan Garton Prairie Heritage Book Award will be given to the best book of the year that illuminates the heritage of America’s mid-continental prairies, whether of the tall-grass, mid-grass, or short-grass regions. Authors’ first books receive extra consideration. Books published in 2014 may be nominated by publishers, authors, or readers. Genre: Books may be in any genre, and topics may include but are not limited to social or natural history; prairie culture of the past or in-the-making; and interactions between society and ecology.Prize: $1000 and a sponsored book-signing. Deadline: April 30, 2015. Submission guidelines are HERE.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

13 Writing Conferences in April 2015

Next month's writers conferences are coming up fast. There is something for everybody this month: conferences for undergrads, journalists, novelists, graphic novelists, poets, screenwriters ... you name it.

Several state, regional, and national writers organizations are hosting conferences in April across the nation, featuring impressive rosters of authors, agents, publicists, and editors.

Registration is still open for all of these conferences. You can see their full schedule of events by clicking on the links.

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30th Annual National Undergraduate Literature Conference, Apr 1 - 4, 2015, Weber State University, Ogden, UT. "Each year, nearly 200 undergraduate writers and poets throughout North America, and sometimes beyond, come to Weber State University to present their work and learn from some of the most important writers in contemporary literature." Focus: Autobiography/Memoir, Non-fiction, Publishing. Faculty: Booker Award winning author Michael Ondaatje; Author, conservationist, activist Terry Tempest Williams; National Public Radio’s longtime “voice of books” Alan Cheuse; Utah’s first Poet Laureate David Lee.

Norwescon, April 2-5, Sea Tac, WA. Norwescon is one of the largest regional Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions in the United States.

WonderCon, April 3-5, Anaheim, CA. HUGE comic book convention.

The AWP Conference & Bookfair, April 8-11, Minneapolis, MN. "The 2015 conference will feature over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The bookfair hosts over 700 presses, journals, and literary organizations from around the world. AWP’s is now the largest literary conference in North America."

Tennessee Mountain Writers Annual Conference, Apr 9 - 11, 2015, Oak Ridge, TN. Topics: Children's, Fiction, Marketing, Non-fiction, Poetry, Publishing, Screenwriting, Young Adult. Faculty: Evelyn Coleman, Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Lisa Coffman, Jason Howard, J. Randy Marshall, with specialty sessions by Beverly Connor, Christy Tillery French, Jennie Ivey, Karen Reynolds, Pamela Schoenewaldt, and Lin Stepp.

New York Writers Workshop Non-Fiction Pitch Conference, April 10-12, 2015, Ripley-Grier Studios (NY Spaces) 520 Eighth Ave (36th/37th), 16th Fl. Participants polish their pitches with the help of conference leaders who are members of the New York Writers Workshop faculty, then they present them to three different editors from major New York publishing houses. Editors provide feedback and may request proposals and manuscripts after the conference.

The Tri-Valley Writers Conference. April 18, Pleasanton, CA. The Tri-Valley Writers Conference is a full day event on the art and business of writing. Featuring three tracks: Craft, Marketing, & Self-Publishing.

Carolina Writing Conferences, Columbia, SC (April 17) and Charlotte, NC (April 18) a full-day of “How to Get Published” workshops. Attending agents: Melissa Jeglinski (The Knight Agency); Robin Mizell (Robin Mizell Literary).

Las Vegas Writer’s Conference sponsored by the Henderson Writers’ Group, Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, Las Vegas, Nevada. April 23 – 25, 2015. Attending agents: Pam van Hylckama Vlieg (D4EO Literary); Paul Lucas (Janklow & Nesbit); and Caitlan Rubino Bradway (LKG Agency).

Northeast Texas Writers Organization 27th Annual Writers Round Up Conference, April 24 and 25. Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Guest speakers, appointments with agents and writing coaches.

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference, April 24 -26, 2015. Colorado Springs, Colorado. "The three-day conference is full of topical, in-depth workshops, dynamic keynote speakers, opportunities for one-on-one time with agents and editors, the chance to read your work aloud for constructive critique, plus time to socialize with fellow writers."

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) Edgar Week Symposium. Apr 28, 2015, New York City, NY. Panels, discussions. Attending authors: Lois Duncan, James Ellroy, Karin Slaughter, Adam Sternbergh, Tom Bouman, Daniel Stashower, William Mann, Alison Gaylin.

ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Writers Conference, Apr 30 - May 2, 2015. NYC, NY. Focus on Autobiography/Memoir, Business/Technical, Humor, Journalism, Marketing, Nature, Non-fiction, Publishing, Religion, Screenwriting, Travel. Attending: more than 100 editors, authors, literary agents, and publicists.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MFA Prof Raises Writers' Wrath, Incites Ire

Two weeks ago a former MFA professor named Ryan Boudinot published what can only be called a diatribe about MFA programs in a Seattle alternative paper.

The article, in which Boudinot skewers the majority of students who enter MFA programs - and more specifically his own students - drew not only 211 irate comments, but a counter article from one of his students pithily entitled "I Was the MFA Student Who Made Ryan Boudinot Cry: A Response to the Insensitive, Shit-Stirring Rant That Made a Lot of People—Including Me—So Mad."

Having never taught in a graduate writing program, I can't comment on what they do, or don't, accomplish. However, having taught in a number of other disciplines - artistic and academic -  I can address some of Boudinot's academic requirements for success in the arts.

1) Talent, as Boudinot says, is required to be a good artist - of any type. No matter how many years of training you have under your belt, if you don't have that ineffable quality of talent (which is like porn; you know it when you see it) you can't succeed at being good. You can, however, succeed commercially. There are plenty of atrocious writers out there who have earned big bucks because they had a marketable idea. (I'm not naming names, here. Just saying ...)

2) I take issue with Boudinot's assertion that taking writing seriously in your teens is required to be a successful writer. Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa, began to write at age 40. James Michener wrote his debut novel, Tales of the South Pacific (which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948) at age 40. Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News, was 53 when she published her first full work of fiction, the short story collection Heart Songs. And at 41 years of age Mark Twain published his first novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ... the list goes on and on. Writing at an early age is not necessary; what is necessary is to love reading. (And since when do teenagers take anything seriously anyhow ... apart from sex, that is.)

3) "If you complain about not having time to write, please do us both a favor and drop out." This complaint should have been modified as "If you complain about not having time to do the work I assign you, please drop out." All grad programs are demanding, and students should be aware of that before entering one. I am with Boudinot on this point. However, if you are a writer who is not in school, and have a day job and/or a family, feel free to complain liberally. The only mature adults who have enough time to write are either independently wealthy or in solitary confinement.

4) "If you aren't a serious reader, don't expect anyone to read what you write." Again, not true. "Hard" books are not necessarily good ones. More to the point, writers should read everything - the good, the bad and the really bad. Dissecting bad writing is just as valuable as dissecting good writing. Developing an "ear" means you should have an intuitive grasp of what sounds good, and what doesn't.

5) "It's important to woodshed." By this, Boudinot means that it is not always the best idea to rush into publication. Your writing will benefit, he says, if you take some time off, let it simmer for a while, then go back to it. I couldn't agree more.  

Although Boudinot has made some valid points, it is more than apparent that he is a mean-spirited man whose heart is two sizes too small. Still, it is worth reading his article if only to give some context to the counter article written by his student, J.C. Sevcik ("I Was the MFA Student Who Made Ryan Boudinot Cry"). Sevcik makes a lot of good points about writing, and about MFA programs - their benefits as well as their drawbacks.

On a personal note, I would like to point out that I did not begin writing seriously until I was in my 40s. My first novel was published by Random House when I was 50. And not only did I never take a graduate course in writing, the only writing class I took as an undergraduate was a single workshop in poetry. (I think I took a few English classes in high school. As I recall, they were okay.)

For those who enjoy poking fun at MFA programs, click HERE to read The Toast's hilarious spoof of MFA workshops.
________________________________________


Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One

By Ryan Boudinot, The Stranger, 2/27/15

I recently left a teaching position in a master of fine arts creative-writing program. I had a handful of students whose work changed my life. The vast majority of my students were hardworking, thoughtful people devoted to improving their craft despite having nothing interesting to express and no interesting way to express it. My hope for them was that they would become better readers. And then there were students whose work was so awful that it literally put me to sleep. Here are some things I learned from these experiences.

Writers are born with talent.

Either you have a propensity for creative expression or you don't. Some people have more talent than others. That's not to say that someone with minimal talent can't work her ass off and maximize it and write something great, or that a writer born with great talent can't squander it. It's simply that writers are not all born equal. The MFA student who is the Real Deal is exceedingly rare, and nothing excites a faculty adviser more than discovering one. I can count my Real Deal students on one hand, with fingers to spare.

If you didn't decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you're probably not going to make it.

There are notable exceptions to this rule, Haruki Murakami being one. But for most people, deciding to begin pursuing creative writing in one's 30s or 40s is probably too late. Being a writer means developing a lifelong intimacy with language. You have to be crazy about books as a kid to establish the neural architecture required to write one.

Read the rest of Boudinot's diatribe HERE

Read Sevcik's retort HERE.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Terry, we'll miss you: Quotes, Quips, and Courage

Terry Pratchett, April 2, 1948 – March 12, 2015
Terry Pratchett is dead at the age of 66. He produced 60 books, and was the fourth most read author in the UK (seventh in the US).

But even with his long career, (celebrated with a knighthood), Terry Pratchett did not produce enough. His dry wit, sharp observations, and unerring eye for the ludicrous were qualities that made his work addictive. No matter how many books he wrote, we would never be satisfied. It is all the more tragic that he was taken before his time.

The last few years of Terry Pratchett's life were marred by the decline brought on by a rare form of Alzheimer's disease, posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). He could no longer read, although he still wrote. He could not speak in public, but had to rely on others to speak for him. His brain fooled him time and again. Yet, he had the inner strength of a writer for whom Death always figured as a prominent character. Terry Pratchett was a man who did not shy away from the inevitable, no matter how tragic.

After being diagnosed in 2007 at the age of 59, Terry Pratchett donated a million dollars to Alzheimer's research in the UK. In this speech (below), "Shaking Hands With Death" (read by his "stunt Pratchett," Tony Robinson) he talks about his diagnosis, how he came to the decision to "come out," and why shaking hands with death (assisted dying) is something whose idea has come.

Death is a taboo topic in the United States. We like to believe that by eating the right food, exercising regularly, and avoiding EMFs we will live forever. (Though, I have yet to meet an immortal, American or otherwise.) As always, Terry Pratchett, makes us face reality. "I enjoy my life," he says. "I wish to continue it for as long as I am myself, knowing who I am, recognizing my nearest and dearest. But I have my appointment with Samarra."





“DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” ― Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

“Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.” ― from Small Gods

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” ― from Diggers

"The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues." —from Moving Pictures

"Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time." —from Hogfather

"I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel." —from the Guardian Book Club

"It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it." —from the foreword to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, by David Pringle

"Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one."

"Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can."

"The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it." – from Monstrous Regiment

"It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done." – from A Hat Full of Sky

"There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this."

"The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks."

"If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story." – from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

"The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head."

"Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to."–from Snuff

"I have no use for people who have learned the limits of the possible."

"So much universe, and so little time."

RIP Terry Pratchett



Thursday, March 12, 2015

2 New Literary Agents Looking for Writers

Here are two agents actively looking to expand their client list. Cara Mannion of Harold Ober Associates  is looking for YA and adult commercial fiction, including romance (and all its subgenres), historical fiction, women’s fiction, paranormal, science fiction, horror, mysteries and thrillers, as well as nonfiction biography.

Stephanie Delman of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates is looking for literary fiction, historical/book club fiction featuring stories that haven’t been told, upmarket women’s fiction, and smart psychological thrillers/suspense, as well as nonfiction pop culture, narrative memoirs, and blog-to-book projects.

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Cara Mannion of Harold Ober Associates

About Cara: A graduate of New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute, Cara is the newest addition to the legacy agency Harold Ober Associates. Before joining the agency world, she worked in editorial at Entangled Publishing’s new adult imprint for two years. At HOA, she works in both the book and film/TV worlds as she assists with selling books’ motion picture rights. Originally hailing from the sunny beaches of Florida, Cara is now enjoying seeing the seasons actually change while actively building her own client list. She can be found on Twitter @Cara_Mannion.

What she is looking for: Mainly YA and adult commercial fiction, including romance (and all its subgenres), historical fiction, women’s fiction, paranormal, science fiction, horror, mysteries and thrillers. Limited interest in nonfiction includes humor and biography. Cara particularly enjoys strong female protagonists, juicy love triangles, subversive conspiracy plots, and opening lines that make you want to jump headfirst into the book.

Not Looking For: Fantasy, memoirs, picture books, poetry, self-help books, screenplays and short story collections.

How to submit: Please email the first 10 pages of your manuscript, a concise query letter, and a detailed synopsis to cara [at] haroldober.com. You can also mail your query to:

Attn: Cara Mannion
Harold Ober Associates
425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

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About Stephanie: After graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Writing Seminars, Stephanie held editorial positions at a health website and a literary journal, and then happily joined Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in 2012. There, she works for the president, collaborates on foreign rights, and is now building her own list. She tweets occasionally at @imaginarysmd.

What she is seeking: Literary fiction, historical/book club fiction featuring stories that haven’t been told, upmarket women’s fiction, and smart psychological thrillers/suspense. In nonfiction, Stephanie looks for pop culture, narrative memoirs, and blog-to-book projects (from writers with established platforms).

Not seeking: Stephanie does NOT represent children’s books, sci-fi, fantasy, romance novels, erotica, or prescriptive nonfiction.

How to submit: Query Stephanie at sdelman [at] sjga.com. Please send a brief letter and the first few chapters of your manuscript in the body of your email, and Stephanie will be in touch if she would like to read more.


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